Friday, May 14, 2010

ragin' cajun

I have a problem.  
I cook far too much food when hosting a group of people.
Cooking for a couple?  No sweat.  
A family of four?  Not to worry.  
But 6-9 people?  I'll make enough food to feed a soccer team.  Varsity and JV.  

Thats. A lot. Of freakin' chicken.  And guess what?  I also threw in shrimp and sausage!  You know, just in case the poultry wasn't enough.

And quite the healthy portion of peppers and onions... not to mention enough garlic to wipe out all the sparkling vampires* you can think of.

The back story: had a game night with an expected 6-8 people to show.  Apparently, this meant I had to make an insane amount of pasta.**  I added shrimp & Andouille sausage to the pasta, for fun.  And, for fun, I made this for guests where 2 did not eat  pork and 1 does not eat shrimp.  So, instead of tossing all together? I had something of an assemble-your-own-pasta bar.  You know, to make things easy for me!

So, while I did enjoy this meal, I wasn't in love with it.  I like the idea, and will probably go back and tweak it some more... especially with less cooking & removing & cooking & removing & adding & removing... Sheesh!!!  However, I will say this: you MUST*** add the andouille!  It adds great flavor and takes the pasta to a new level.  

Seriously.  Do the sausage.  It's for your own good.

*Really, Stephanie Meyer?  Sparkles???  Like a pixie??!?!?!  Bravo.**** 
**Just insane/ Got no brain!
***must Must MUST!!!
****I know, this rant has been expressed everywhere already.  But you haven't heard ME complain about it until now!

Cajun Pasta with Chicken, Shrimp and Andouille Sausage
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman, serves 6*

3 chicken breasts, cubed
2 handfuls of shrimp, de-shelled**
4 andoullie sausages, sliced
4tsps Cajun spices
1lb fettuccine, or other long noodle
2Tbsp olive oil
2Tbsp buter
1 green pepper, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
4 roma tomatoes, diced
2c chicken broth
1/2c white wine
1c heavy cream
cayenne pepper
chopped parsely

Cook pasta like... well, you normally cook pasta being careful not to over-do it.***

Meanwhile, sprinkle chicken and shrimp with Cajun spices & toss.  Cook chicken and sausages in 1Tbsp oil and 1Tbsp butter in a large, heavy skillet over high heat.  Don't over crowd & allow to brown on both sides (about 1-2 minutes per side).  You may have to cook the meat in batches, depending on space.  Then cook shrimp, (about 45sec-1min per side).  Set all meat aside.

 To the skillet, heat the remaining butter and olive oil and add the peppers, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle liberally with remaining Cajun spices and salt, if needed (some Cajun blends are super salty, so be careful.)
Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring, to get veggies dark.  Add tomatoes.  Cook all for 30 more seconds and remove veggies from pan.

Still over high heat, add wine & chicken broth to deglaze the pan (i.e. scrape up any brown-bits stuck to the bottom.)  Cook this liquid for 3-5 min, and then reduce to medium-low & add the cream while whisking.  Cook for a few minutes until starts to thicken.  Season with black pepper and cayenne according to preference, (and salt if needed.)

Add meat, veggies, and their juices back into sauce.  Cook for 1-2 more minutes until hot and toss in pasta.  Top with parsely.

*I used Mrs. Pioneer's scale, as mine was too big for anyone.
**Though I love shrimp, and this definitely beefs up the dish, it's not required.  If anything, it kinda gets lost behind the chicken & sausage.  Pick your favorite two proteins & highlight just those.
***You don't want to over-do the pasta (cook to "al dente") because it wont hold up to the sauce.  Also, adding back into the pot with the hot sauce may cook it alittle more, and you don't want this to get soggy.  

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